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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 28th (All times eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (20-14-3) at St. Louis Blues (18-12-5), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - A pair of streaking Central Division rivals will meet tonight in St. Louis as the Blues welcome the Chicago Blackhawks to Scottrade Center.

The Blues, who with 31 points are two behind Chicago for second place in the Central, have won three in a row and their last two victories have come at the start of a five-game homestand.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have won their last four games to match their longest winning streak of the season. The defending Stanley Cup champions also won four straight from Oct. 15-20. Chicago hasn't claimed five straight victories since a six-game winning streak from March 31-April 9 of last season.

Chicago has taken two of three from the Blues this year, winning twice on home ice and losing a road tilt in St. Louis on Oct. 22. The Blackhawks have taken seven of 10 overall in the series, but they have also dropped two straight and six out of 10 in the Gateway City.

The last time the Blues and Blackhawks met was on Nov. 30 in Chicago and Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews each scored a pair of goals to lead the home team to a wild 7-5 win.

Kane hasn't played since Dec. 5 due to a left ankle injury, but he could return to the lineup tonight after an eight-game absence. Kane is third on the Blackhawks with 27 points this season.

One of Kane's teammates was able to return from injury in the Blackhawks' last game and helped Chicago pull out Sunday's win over visiting Columbus. Marian Hossa was in Chicago's lineup for the first time this month and posted two assists in the 4-1 victory. He had been out since suffering a lower-body injury during a November 29 practice.

Patrick Sharp scored twice and Marty Turco stopped 26 shots in the win. Turco, who hadn't played since December 13, improved to 9-8-2 on the season.

"Marty was a big part of that win tonight," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he was big in that first period. He gave us a chance to get our feet under us. It was a very important game for a lot of reasons, but good to see Marty get a win."

Dave Bolland and Tomas Kopecky also lit the lamp for the Blackhawks, who have lost two straight on the road and are 8-5-3 away from the Windy City this season.

Chicago forward Bryan Bickell is riding a career-best six-game point streak and has four goals and three assists during that tear.

The Blues began their current homestand before the Christmas break with last Thursday's 4-3 regulation win over Detroit. St. Louis resumed the residency on Sunday, when it notched a 2-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 32 shots for his fourth shutout of the season in Sunday's victory and David Backes scored both goals for the Blues. Vladimir Sobotka and Alex Steen each had an assist in the victory.

Prior to winning its last two at Scottrade Center, the Blues had lost five out of seven on home ice. St. Louis, which still has games against Phoenix and Dallas on this homestand, has a strong 12-4-2 home record this season.

12/28 11:16:58 ET


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